Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

The Big Parade
- 10,000 Maniacs

Detroit to D.C. night train, Capitol, parts East.
Lone young man takes a seat.
And by the rhythm of the rails, reading all his mother's mail from a city boy in a jungle town postmarked Saigon.

He'll go live his mother's dream, join the slowest parade he'll ever see. Her weight of sorrows carried long and carried far.
"Take these, Tommy, to The Wall."

Metro line to the Mall site with a tour of Japanese.
He's wandering and lost until a vet in worn fatigues takes him down to where they belong.
Near a soldier, an ex-Marine with a tattooed dagger and eagle trembling,
he bites his lip beside a widow breaking down.

She takes her Purple Heart, makes a fist, strikes The Wall.
All come to live a dream, to join the slowest parade they'll ever see.
Their weight of sorrows carried long and carried far, taken to The Wall.

It's 40 paces to the year that he was slain.
His hand's slipping down The Wall for it's slick with rain.
How would life have ever been the same if this wall had carved
in it one less name?

But for Christ's sake, he's been dead over 20 years.
He leaves the letters asking,
"Who caused my mother's tears, was it Washington or the Viet Cong?"
Slow deliberate steps are involved. He takes them away from the
black granite wall toward the other monuments so white and clean.

O, Potomac, what you've seen. Abraham had his war too, but an honest war.
Or so it's taught in school.


The most memorable line from this song is "How would life have ever been the same if this wall had carved in it one less name?"

One name has many names and faces and lives behind it. We are so connected to each other. We have a military loss in our family from almost 40 years ago, and the impact of the one death permeated the lives of family members. Critical events occurred that would not have had he survived.

We went to Washington DC last month to see the Cherry Blossom Festival. We walked towards Lincoln Memorial, passing through the World War II Memorial. We went to the Vietnam Memorial, which I've seen every time I've been there. And it's always shocking to see the sheer number of names present.

However, I got chills this time. What is the Iraqi War Memorial going to be? How many names are we going to see?

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